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5 Wheaton College Football Players Face Felony Charges Following Hazing Probe

(CBS) – Authorities in DuPage County said they expect five Wheaton College football players to turn themselves in to police over the next few days, after they were charged with felonies for allegedly hazing a teammate last year.

James Cooksey, Kyler Kregel, Benjamin Pettway, Noah Spielman, and Samuel TeBos have been charged with felony aggravated battery, mob action and unlawful restraint, according to the DuPage County State's Attorney's office.

A judge signed arrest warrants for all five, setting their bonds at $50,000, and Wheaton police said they expect the players to turn themselves in later this week.

Wheaton Football Players Face Charges
Five Wheaton College football team members face charges in an alleged hazing incident. Clockwise, from left: James Cooksey; Kyler Kregel; Benjamin Pettway; Samuel TeBos; and Noah Spielman (Wheaton College)

All five players live out of state. As of Tuesday morning, their names remain listed on the Wheaton College football team roster.

The alleged victim, a freshman who has since left the school, said the hazing happened in March 2016.

Police said the victim was forcefully taken out of his dorm room, restrained against his will, and dumped in a baseball field. The Chicago Tribune reports the alleged victim, a freshman at the time, told police he was in his dorm room when the five duct-taped his hands and feet, put a pillowcase over his head, threw him in a car, attempted to sodomize him with an object, and then dumped him half-naked in an off-campus park.

The victim told the Tribune he suffered muscle tears in both shoulders, and was treated at a hospital.

"This has had a devastating effect on my life. What was done to me should never occur in connection with participation in a football program or any other activity," the victim said in a statement through his attorneys. "I am pleased that the Wheaton Police Department and the DuPage SAO have completed their investigation and obtained these charges. I am confident that the criminal prosecution will provide a fair and just punishment to the men who attacked me."

Wheaton College said other players and members of the coaching staff immediately alerted the school about the incident.

"The College took swift action to initiate a thorough investigation," the school said. "Our internal investigation into the incident, and our engagement with an independent, third-party investigator retained by the College, resulted in a range of corrective actions. We are unable to share details on these disciplinary measures due to federal student privacy protections."

The victim's attorney, Terry Ekl, said he hopes Wheaton College learns from the incident, and realizes it cannot condone this type of conduct in the future.
"We have all seen situations where young men engage in foolish and immature conduct. What was done to our client in this case is far beyond what is acceptable behavior or which can be dismissed as merely harmless hazing," Ekl said.

Wheaton Police Chief Jim Volpe said the department also began an immediate investigation after the incident, but did not bring charges until now because of the complexity of the case.

"An incident like this, because of the severity of the case, the number of people to interview, they're college students, so some of them weren't around. It happened in March, and the school year was ending very soon," he said. "We have completed a very thorough investigation, and that was a lot of interviews, a lot of evidence gathering, and consulting with the state's attorney."

Wheaton College would not share details of the disciplinary actions taken against the five accused players, citing privacy protections.

Wheaton police said this is the first hazing-related incident they have dealt with.

The victim reportedly transferred to a college in Indiana after the incident.

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